Friday, December 14, 2012

A Chat with Katherine Bateson-Chandler

By Kitson

Katherine on Zandi (aka Zandreau)
International dressage rider Katherine Bateson Chandler has her work cut out for her this season in Wellington, Florida with green competition horses. 

“It’s a fun challenge,” she says. I’m sure she’s up to the task – Katherine is a smart and talented rider with a knack for bringing out the best in her horses. I got to know her a bit in 2011 while working on a story for Dressage Today (it’s the cover story for the December 2012 issue). The story focused on how she met her 2010 World Equestrian Games horse, Nartan, and how she honed their relationship on a very short timeframe.

I chatted with Katherine recently, here’s what she’s up to:

How will you juggle holiday plans with the season gearing up in Wellington?
I have to say as mine and my husbands’ families all live in other countries (mine in England and his in New Zealand!) then our holidays are quite quiet and spent with our animals!

Who are your primary horses now with Nartan retired?
I have some younger horses coming along. First and foremost Alcazar who will compete small tour this year hopefully both here in the states and in Europe. I have my own seven-year old who will also start in the Prix St. Georges after the new year and an eight year old named Zandreau who I hope will do some fourth levels early in the season!

What do you love most about being in Wellington during the winter?
I have been coming to Wellington in the season all of my adult life! For me it's like summer camp in the winter!!! I get to see all my friends who come down here for the season and enjoy picking and choosing what shows to compete at. This year we have the choice of shows as there is something every weekend. I love seeing all the new horses and how the ones I know have progressed. It's so educational and I can't get enough.

What shows are you most looking forward to?
I am of course looking forward to watching the dressage masters. It's great to see the Europeans. Also the Nations Cup in April will be a highlight. 

Are you doing any horsey d├ęcor in your new home?
I'm embarrassed to say I don't really have a lot of other interests other than the horses, so my house has a constant horsey theme. My poor husband!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's Horses

By Kitson

I visited Monticello this past weekend and enjoyed peeking into the stables built into a hillside near the author of the Declaration of Indenpence's famous author. I did a little research and found out that a horse named Caractacus was Jefferson's most well-known riding horse. He was foaled in May of 1775 and was a descendant of the Godolphin Arabian. Jefferson was known for being a fierce rider who enjoyed fox-hunting and loved to watch horse racing.

Jefferson planned things he called "dependencies" like the stable, kitchen and smoke house, so they didn't interfere with the amazing mountaintop views. The stables closest to the house are built into a hillside. You can see the roof of what becomes the stable area on the left.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Science Behind Branding

By Kitson

Here's an interesting article on the debate about branding foals for identification. The big question: are the brands even legible down the road? I wonder: why not just microchip?

Monday, December 3, 2012

100 Most Popular Horse Names

SmartPak chronicled the 100 most popular horse names here.  I seriously think I knew horses named at least 60 of these, more if you count horses in books, and have owned two.  (I had a Romeo (#19) and I have a Sugar (#56) right now.)  I like that there are asterisks next to the horse names owned by SmartPark employees--Rocky, Lucy, Sunny.   Number one is Jack.  But the Gingers and Magics, Dukes, Indies, and Jazzes. . .you know them!

Horse Drama in the Quarter Horse World

Every breed gets a not-in-a-good-way spotlight, seems like.  Today is evidently the Quarter Horse people's turn.  Click here for a story of Quarter Horse scandal from the LA Times.  Teaser in form of the subhead:  "Owner Rita Crundwell 'was kind of like Madonna' in her field. Then it turned out she'd been stealing money – more than $53 million – from the town she worked for."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mankind: The Story of All of Us. . .Including Horses

The new History channel show, Mankind:  The Story of All of Us, features horses and how man came to use them.  Click here for a preview.  "The heavy cavalry of the Mongols really could do some amazing things. . ."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

They Really Do Remember Us!

A study has shown that horses really do remember people who have shown them kindness.  I found this very gratifying, as I've been accused of anthropomorphosizing my horses.  But they like me, they really like me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

eBay pony commercial

This is a goofy commercial about a little girl who thinks she wants a pony for Christmas.  Things don't go as expected.  Does anyone else detect a very real subtext about buying horses when you're not ready  or experienced enough for them?  Click here and let me know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Older Horse

By Kitson

I stumbled upon this beautiful online photo exhibit by photographer Isa Leshko this morning, while looking for some images of older horses for a fiction project. In my story, the past-his-prime horse hero looks something like Leshko's subject, Pumpkin (photo #5). Here's an NPR story about it, including a short video about her project.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sergeant Reckless

This Veteran's Day, I read some pieces about a horse named Sergeant Reckless.  She was "a Mongolian mare who won two Purple Hearts and earned the rank of staff sergeant for carrying ammunition in battle," according to the NYT blog about her.  I am drawn to the story because it is amazing--a Saturday Evening Post article about her rallied Americans to bring her home--but also because there is an author out there named Robin Hutton who is writing a book about Reckless.  I've got the same obsession with the racehorse Exterminator.  It made me think--is there someone out there for each of these famous horses of the past?  Each one of them has one of us--a writer, bound to find out more, preoccupied with Reckless or Exterminator or the many others that we know contributed to the world. . .here's to you, Robin Hutton.

And most of all, here's to Reckless.

Monday, November 12, 2012

War Horse. . .the real story

Here's a piece from Great Britain about the real story behind War Horse. . .click here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NY Times and racehorses

More from the NYT on racing today. . .here is a piece about racehorses who are bound for slaughter.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Update on Chincoteague Ponies After Sandy

By Kitson

Check out this nice video from the Washington Post about how the wild ponies on Assateague fared earlier this week during Hurricane Sandy. The Virginia ponies (closer to Chincoteague) are kept off public areas with fences, as opposed to the Maryland side where they have the run of the island.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Horse-Mask Guy

By Kitson

According to the website DCistJimmy Kruyne, "just wanted to brighten people's moods on a dark, doom-filled day" when Hurricane Sandy came to town. No, he wasn't delivering flowers or paying it forward in the nation's capital, he bared his chest, put on a horse-head mask and went jogging in 40 degrees of wet, wild and wind. He even managed to interrupt a live hurricane report and ended up on NBC news. Well done Jimmy! You me smile on a dreary day. Check out this blog account from the Washington Post.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Bye Bye WIHS

By Kitson

With Hurricane Sandy on the way in the nation's capital, riders and pit crews packed early yesterday, starting at 6 a.m. By 4:30 p.m. the 6th Street stalls were down without a horse in sight. around the corner on F Street, the stalls were up and nothing left but manure to be carted away in gigantic blue bins. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kate Middleton Will Learn To Ride

By Kitson

People magazine reports that Duchess of Cambridge wants to learn to ride a horse. Check it out here. If Lee Pearson ends up giving Kate Middleton lessons, perhaps we'll have an exclusive interview right here on the SweetFeed! Stayed tuned.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hanna Powers: One Awesome Young Rider

By Kitson

For a long time I didn’t have my own pony. I was just the lesson kid. I constantly remember how lucky I am to get to ride in two places, on my amazing school team and on my awesome pony. I’m living a dream. I’m really lucky. ~ Hanna Powers

Last month I met a wonderful young rider named Hanna Powers. What a great girl –articulate, friendly, humble and a wonderful horse person. We did a little photo shoot, me taking pictures of Hanna and Arielle, one of the school horses she rides at the MadeiraSchool in McLean, VA. Afterwards, we sat in the barn for an interview. We talked horses, what else?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Horses in D.C.

By Eliza

It's WIHS time here in our nation's capital, and the newspaper this weekend has been full of horses.  The first was a big story about War Horse, which is at the Kennedy Center.  I would like to see the play, with its incredible horse puppets and relentlessly great reviews, but. . .

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Miranda Lambert's Video. . .With A Beautiful Horse

Here's a look behind the scenes of Miranda Lambert's "Over You" video. . .it features not only Miranda herself, of course, but a very beautiful gray (non-horse people will see him as white) horse.  (The article says he used to be a circus performer.)  And I think you can even see in this photo that this is no I-just-took-a-riding-lesson singer here.  We have a horse person.

Horses and Hockey

My household--and hockey fans everywhere--are very disappointed about the NHL lockout that's going on right now.  Here's an article from the Times' Rail blog about Eddie Olczyk, a former NHL player and coach who is also a horseplayer.  An unusual way to bring the two together. . .

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bring Your Apples

By Kitson

Living in the nation's capital does have its perks. I'm not talking family photos with the Obamas or 
cherry blossoms in April, I mean Breakfast with the Mounted Police! For years,  the historic Washington International Horse Show (which happens downtown at the Verizon Center October 23 -28) has invited the mounted police from several local jurisdictions and their horses for breakfast. The menu? Coffee, donuts and lots of hay.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How Do Those Clydesdales Get To The Super Bowl?

You can find out here, in this video.  A great collection from the past fifteen years--training, working, and, of course. . .baby Clydes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Brooke & Jacuzzi

By Kitson

Brooke and Jacuzzi in 2009
Photos courtesy of Suzanne Meyers
In September - twist my arm - I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with a delightful 11-year old horse lover named BrookeAt age 9, Brooke tamed a wild mustang that she named Jacuzzi and won the youth division at the 2009 Extreme Mustang Makeover Murfreesboro, TN, the youngest participant ever to win.She bought Jacuzzi with the money she won.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

California horsehair thefts. . .odd and disturbing

Who would want horsehair so much that they would cut off horses' tails?  Law enforcement in rural Wyoming would like to know.  The L.A. Times has the story.  As John M. Glionna writes, "Horse rustling is a crime that goes back centuries in the American West. But the thieves usually take the whole horse."

Friday, September 21, 2012

New Jersey Bans Horse-Eating

I think my favorite part of this story is that Bruce Springsteen's equestrian daughter was one of the people lobbying to make this law.  New Jersey=Bruce Springsteen.  Also, I learned that New Jersey's state animal is the horse.  I had no idea.

Click here for the whole story from

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I've always loved the idea of riding a police horse too, but. . .

Vandals broke into a stable, and released 27 police horses.  Two were hurt.  As police horses should, they primarily remained calm until help arrived.  Here is the full story, as well as pictures of TJ and Schott, the two horses who were harmed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Thoroughbred Times declares bankruptcy

It's hard to see a publication that's been around this long close its doors, and particularly rough for racing fans.  Here's the story from The Blood-Horse. . .

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Horse on the Train Tracks

By Eliza

This actually happened in Weston, Connecticut today.  Fortunately, there is not a grisly end to this story. . .and it includes a very attractive 22 year-old mare named Millie.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beloved Horse to Many

By Kitson

I never met Jackson, but have heard people in my neighborhood talk about him over the years. This is just another story about how a horse can impact many people's lives. Check it out in today's Washington Post.

Germany Gets New Dressage Coach

By Kitson

"The horse is my partner, not my tool. It doesn’t matter at what level you are riding, the most important thing is how you treat your horse, making sure he is happy at work.”

~ Monica Theodorescu

 I just heard that the FEI has named international dressage rider Monica Theodorescu as Germany's new dressage coach. I spent a weekend with Monica, an Olympic gold medalist, back in 2006, shadowing her on a chilly south-Florida weekend in February as she taught an upper-level clinic in Wellington, FL. I learned so much watching her teach and wrote a story about it for Dressage Today. Check out more about her new role in this article in the Chronicle.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Please Help Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue

By Kitson

Reposting from Pure Thoughts website about the devastating flood they have suffered down in South Florida. Click here to donate.

Recapturing the Gilded Age of Newport, RI

By Kitson

Both photos courtesy of for The Preservation Society of Newport County

Check out this very cool New York Times slideshow narrated by the photographer and "cultural anthropologist" Bill Cunningham, documenting this month's "coaching weekend," an event held by the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island. Dozens of coaching enthusiasts -- along with their teams and their coaches, spend a glorious four days in Newport driving, socializing and dining. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More Charlotte Dumas

By Kitson

I just got a call from a friend who wants to celebrate the back-to-school season with a trip downtown to the Corcoran Gallery of Art to see the wonderful and moving photography exhibit called "Anima." (which I briefly blogged about on earlier this summer). There's an article in today's Washington Post about the exhibit by Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Raceday 360 Post

By Eliza

I had fun writing about the names of graded stakes races for this column over at Raceday360.

Horsing Around with Psy

By Kitson

This Korean rapper, Psy (short for "Pyscho") is putting his natural rhythm, quality gaits and swinging back to good use here in his new "horse-riding" dance. Check out this entertaining report.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Yes, Another NYT Piece. . .Drought Means Tough Times for Range Horses

By Eliza

Out west, horses are being abandoned because of the drought.  Rescues are trying, but they can't solve the problem.  Horse "have been found stumbling through state parks in Missouri, in backyards and along country roads in Illinois, and among ranch herds in Texas where they do not belong," writes Fernanda Santos.  Click here for the whole story.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Another Riding Stable in Jeopardy, File Under Development

By Eliza

This story in the Washington Post about Woodlawn Stables hit me today, because I am so aware of how hard it is to find space to ride as development turns the outskirts of cities into mega-suburbs.  This is not the barn I rode at when I was young--this one is--but I know it well, and it's sad to think of such an entrenched part of local life being ruined.  If you have ever watched a beloved boarding or lesson barn close, you know this story well.  It's not easy being a horse person these days.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Holland Nievergelt

By Eliza

Click here for a great COTH story by Mollie Bailey about Holland Nievergelt, a real kid with a real pony. . .who really win.  She bought her horse after seeing him on a site in Western tack.  "We couldn’t afford a groom, didn’t have a golf cart," says the mom.  Yet she finished third over fences at the USEF Pony Finals.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ode To Brighty

The life-sized bronze statue of Brighty
that sits in the lodge 

By Kitson

Have you ever read Marguerite Henry’s 1953wonderful children’s book, Brighty of the Grand Canyon?

Best Dressage Article I've Read ...

By Eliza

... in a long time in a non-equestrian publication is by Frances Sellers and is in this morning's Washington Post.  Sellers makes dressage understandable as a sport, not just "an easy target" that symbolizes ludicrous horse activity.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fine Cotton

This is a story that was not familiar to me, and I have read a lot about horse racing over the years.  I even know something about Australian racing (that "something" being Phar Lap.)  But have you ever heard of the Fine Cotton scandal?  Teaser:  one horse raced in another's place. . .in 1976.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pioneer Woman and Wild Horses

Some of you may be familiar with The Pioneer Woman--she writes a blog, hosts a cooking show, and generally shares her life as a rancher.  Here's a post about the BLM mustangs that her husband, whom she calls "Marlboro Man," wrote.  Very interesting and illuminating about what mustangs actually mean and where they are in today's world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Charlotte Dumas: Anima

By Kitson

Last night I was driving down 17th Street here in DC and noticed a huge poster of a beautiful gray horse hanging outside the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Anima is a new collection of horse photos taken by Dutch photographer Charlotte Dumas on display in the museum's rotunda. I can't wait to check it out!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The All-Thoroughbred Horse Show

Hosted at Pimlico (perfect place for all things Thoroughbred), this show demonstrated the versatility of Thoroughbreds.  Not just for racing anymore!  Read all about it in this Thoroughbred Times article.

Political Horses

Did you know that Ralfaca Romney has a Twitter account?  Follow at once.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Watch Senate Hearing on Doping in Horse Racing


Watch lawmakers discuss the Thoroughbred racing industry and figure out the drug situation.  Barry Irwin (Animal Kingdom) is talking now.

Wild Ponies Roadside on Assateague Island

By Kitson

Hippotherapist taking a stand in horse slashings in Herndon, Virginia

There has been a very troubling episode of horses being slashed in Herndon, Virginia.  But one woman who works with hippotherapy clients wants to help the person doing the slashing.  Read this Washington Post story about how horses can help, even when they are victimized.

Monday, July 9, 2012

More Chincoteague

By Kitson

I'm sitting in the cutest little library in Chincoteague, Virginia, looking out over the channel on a cloudy day. Check out these gorgeous pony pictures courtesy of the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Visit to Chincoteague

By Kitson

This morning I packed up my ancient copy of Marguerite Henry's Misty of Chincoteague (nostalgic beach read), loaded the children in the car and headed east over the Bay Bridge and beyond. On the other side of the bridge, miles of golden-tasseled Maryland corn fields eventually yielded to Virginia's hazy green and blue marshes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dressage Finger from SmartPak

I love SmartPak, and I haven't ever even kept any horses in stalls who actually need Smartpaks.  I just like the catalog, and buy things from them with some regularity.  This is a funny video by the Smartpak people.  It's about Dressage Finger. . .watch, and find out what that means.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brave Horsepeople in the Colorado Wildfires

By Eliza

The Colorado wildfires currently raging have people trying to plan and keep themselves safe.  For those who care for horses, the wildfires add an additional burden.  Read this local account of one barn manager working to keep the horses she's in charge of out of harm's way.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Walk through the Grayson Highlands

By Kitson

File this under “Y” for you learn something new every day. While I was interviewing a 12-year old girl this spring for a story that appears in the Washington Post’s KidsPost section today, Reed Gjonnes told me how she spent her 12th birthday (in May of this year) at the Grayson Highlands in Virginia with “the wild ponies that roam around.” She and her dad are thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail which runs right through this Virginia park. Because it was her birthday, her dad, Eric, let her linger with the ponies before they finished the 25 miles they hiked that day.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

No One Said it Would Be Easy

By Kitson

When I was a teenager, if ever I had a complaint or a whine, a great friend of mine would dutifully remind me that "no one ever said it would be easy." Since April when two-time Olympic eventer Amy Tryon passed away suddenly, I have been wondering why she died. The news has been strangely silent on this topic.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Royal family off to the races

By Eliza

Check out this blog for an exciting look at race day in England. . .from the point of view of some visitors from a across the pond.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Heather Blitz and Paragon. . .Going to London

By Eliza

Lately, dressage has been in the news mainly as it pertains to Anne Romney.  But here is the latest story in this discipline:  rider Heather Blitz and her horse Paragon are heading to London as the reserve pair to represent America in the Olympics.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Corgi "Call Me Maybe"

By Eliza

Silly, not horses. . .but corgis are horsey dogs, right?  So here you go.  Click here to watch a corgi "singing" Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Lot to Love About Starwars TOF

By Kitson

This months’ Dressage Today includes a story I wrote about a showstopper of a Haflinger named Starwars TOF, and of course his rider, the talented Grand Prix dressage rider Jillian Santi. Curious, brave and handsome, the 14-year old gelding Starwars TOF was the first Haflinger in the U.S. to show at a United States Dressage Federation recognized show at the FEI Grand Prix level (check out this video of their latest freestyle!). I originally connected with Jillian while writing a profile about Haflingers and their owners for Horse Illustrated (September 2011 issue, blogged about it here). They live in Washington state.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Nice Story About I'll Have Another

By Kitson

Yesterday the Washington Post's KidsPost section featured a great story (by WP sports writer Frank Bowen) about Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another. I'm looking forward to watching the Belmont Stakes this weekend, but keep thinking about this ominous statement from the Humane Society of the United States.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Update from the Clydesdale Nursery!

By Kitson

All photos courtesy of Budweiser Clydesdales
Back in March I blogged about all the beautiful bouncing baby Clydesdales being born at Warm Springs Ranch, the state-of-the-art breeding facility in Boonville, Missouri for the Budweiser Clydesdales. Update! The herd added 28 foals born this year. The last two babies were born Tuesday, delivered within minutes of each other by mares named Diane and Ashley and sired by the same stallion. Since they were nearly twins, the colts were named after the movie “Twins.” 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Color of Horses

By Eliza

I love looking at a pastureful of horses and thinking about color.  The range of bays alone is wide--blood bay, red bay, brown--not to mention the flashy champagnes and red roans.  Here is a explanation of horse colors from the Horse Genome Project at the University of Kentucky (where else?)  If, like me, you like seeing the beauty of all the horse colors, but glaze over when you see any word ending in -zygous, check out this page.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Barbara Livingston's Near Miss

By Eliza

I don't think this is the first time I have raved about Barbara Livingston's photography, and she's not exactly undiscovered.  However, this is an amazing slideshow up at of an almost-accident that happened during Belmont training, in which I'll Have Another almost got hit by a runaway horse.  Cameo by Lava Man.  Hi, Lava Man.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Post up at Raceday 360

By Eliza

Getting ready to watch the Belmont and see if I'll Have Another can make history with a Triple Crown win?  Check out my most recent Outrider column over at Raceday 360 to learn about Sir Barton, the first horse to win the Triple Crown. . .even though no one called it that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Acrostic Poem: Horse

By Kitson

My third grader has been writing acrostic poems in school this spring. He has inspired me. Hardly a better subject to write a poem about than the...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Preakness and Turf Writing

By Eliza

Because of my long-standing preoccupation with the racehorse Exerminator, I read a lot of historic turf writing, often from the 1910s and 1920s.  I love it; writer were unafraid to gush, to write passionately.  It was like watching racing movies all the time. I thought of those older pieces when I was reading Joe Drape's article about the Preakness.  This is an exciting year; in I'll Have Another we've got a horse that could go all the way and be a Triple Crown winner.  His article reflects that.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Looking for a Preakness pick?

The middle jewel in the Triple Crown is often the middle child, overlooked all too often, but this year the Preakness has an exciting question:  Can the Bob Baffert-trained Bodemeister take the victory he, many believe, should have had in the Kentucky Derby?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Phillip Dutton and Mystery Whisper Headed to London

By Kitson

Mystery Whisper behind the scenes during his winning weekend at Jersey Fresh,
all photos courtesy of Joanie Morris.
Last month I chatted with Phillip Dutton as he drove south from his farm in Pennsylvania to Kentucky for the Rolex 3-Day Event, which was an "observation" event as part of the selection process for the Olympic team. I asked him about his preparations and hopes for the 2012 Olympics, and the four horses he's campaigning (Mystery Whisper, Ben, Fernhill Eagle and Mighty Nice, more info about them here). He told me -- when it comes to making the Olympic team, "It all depends on how these horses go. So many things can happen, we just do our best and wait it out.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Katherine Bateson-Chandler's New Ride

By Kitson

Alcazar, photo courtesy of Katherine Bateson-Chandler
I got a little horsie eye candy yesterday from Grand Prix dressage champion Katherine Bateson-Chandler: a picture of her new horse, who started out as Alonzo but as of yesterday had been re-named Alcazar. The 7-year old Dutch-bred Warmblood gelding (recently purchased by Jane Clark) arrived at Katherine's barn in Wellington last month. Check out an article about this gorgeous creature at

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Onion Takes on the Kentucky Derby

By Eliza

A very funny moment from the writers over at The Onion, as they imagine what Derby winner I'll Have Another must have been thinking.  A selection: "Then a horn sounded and it scared the hell out of me and everyone was running," the horse added. "And all I could think was, 'I'm only 3 years old. Please, God, I'm only 3.'"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Speaking of Secretariat...

By Kitson

Three weeks ago I blogged about a little great-grandson of Secretariat being pulled out of a dismal and neglectful situation. Here's a updated picture of the chestnut foal and the TB yearling, Willow who suffered the same neglect. They look so much better and appear to be solidly on the road to recovery at Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Doodle 4 Google Secretariat contestant

By Eliza

Those of you who have kids may have had them enter the Doodle 4 Google art contest, in which young artists drew a Google image about a place and time they wanted to visit.  Piper F., in Grade 7 in Heath, Texas, said she wanted to see Secretariat win the Triple Crown.  Gorgeous "doodle" (these are really full-fledged works of art).  Vote for Piper F.!  Click here to see her work.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Story about racehorse trainer Max Hirsch

By Eliza

Derby week racing focus continues with a link to a story I wrote about the great trainer Max Hirsch. . .
Click here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

More in the sobering Times series about racehorse breakdowns

By Eliza

The second installment, this one focusing on casinos and their role in the problem.  Click here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Exterminator's 1918 Kentucky Derby

By Eliza

More Derby stuff. . .this is historical, though.  Exterminator, the racehorse with whom I am admittedly preoccupied, won the Derby in 1918.  Here is a video of his race.  I love how you can see what a rainy day it had been, the depth of the mud on the track.  You can see photographers picking their way through the muck.  And most of all, there is Exterminator, pulling ahead with what people would start to recognize as his characteristic style, and then wearing his roses at the end, his long head and long body.  Everyone is wearing a hat.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Getting Derby-Ready

By Eliza

Even if you are not a gigantic racing fan, you must know it's almost Derby time.  And as a horse person, you really should have a pick when you walk into that Derby party.  Here is your cheat sheet, and his name is Steve Haskins.  He writes for the Blood-Horse and his choices--"Haskins' Derby Dozen"--are all you need to know about the most exciting two minutes in sports.  Click here.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Check out Laura Crum at the Equestrian Ink Blog

Kind of funny to be writing a blog post about another blog, but today I'm writing in about a blog that I read. If you read, you will also like It's written by people who write fiction about horses. I found it because I am a of Laura Crum, who writes the Wednesday blog posts but is more famous as the author of the Gail McCarthy mysteries.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lessons Learned From Amy Tryon

How shocking and sad to hear about two-time Olympic medalist event rider Amy Tryon’s untimely death yesterday. As I sit here writing I’m recalling all the times I interviewed her from this same seat. She was always humble, hard-working and focused on her horse’s happiness. Her talent, her knack for finding and shaping equine partners, and her tremendous dedication to the art of horsemanship have earned her well-deserved international recognition. And she made it to her first Olympics (2004) in her “spare” time while serving as a full-time job as a firefighter. She lived with her husband Greg and their horses in DuvallWA.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tough Times, Yet Hope Lives at Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue

By Kitson

It was the screaming that did it.

When Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue founders Jennifer Swanson and Brad Gaver went to pick up the chestnut paint horse, there was a lot of crying and screaming. Who wouldn’t scream if you were losing your house and had to give away your horse, too? But while the family was upset, it was their goat who was screaming as his best friend disappeared into the trailer. Without missing a beat, Brad and Jennifer offered to take the goat, too. It’s just what they do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Roxy

By Kitson

Roxy, courtesy of the Maria's Watercolor
I chatted with Stacy Westfall last night about a story we're working on together and she mentioned how she was touched by the tribute piece that I wrote about her dearly departed quarter horse mare, Roxy (in the May/June 2012 issue of Young Rider). Today on her blog she shared a photo of the beautiful watercolor of Roxy that an artist painted and sent to her. Stacy keeps saying: Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Of Illusions Shattered

By Kitson

The Wick Home in Morristown, New Jersey
This week I visited family in New Jersey. On my way home, I took a slight detour through Morris County to drive past the farm that my grandparents once owned in Morristown. I also visited the nearby National Historical Parkat Jockey Hollow. I had visited there when I was a child and loved hearing about the legend of Tempe Wick, the young colonial woman who, during the Revolutionary War, hid her beloved horse inside her family’s home from mutinous, horse-thieving soldiers. What's not to love about Tempe?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Game of Thrones Horses (Garrons)

By Eliza

Obviously we have been working a bit of a theme with onscreen horses here lately--Hunger Games, Luck, Dreamer and Grand Slam, and now, Game of Thrones. I've read all the books, but it wasn't until last night that I saw the first episode of the HBO series. Talk about horses aplenty. There are horses everywhere. Royal horses, pack horses, cart horses, ponies for children. In the books, the smaller horses are called garrons, which I learned is a Scottish word for a hardy little horse.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grand Slam dies

By Eliza

Racing reports everywhere are on top of the news that Grand Slam, the great stallion, has died. You can go to those other sources--good one from the Blood-Horse--for why this is important. But I just want everyone to remember the moment in the movie Dreamer (an excellent choice for those who want to watch something about the love between a girl and a horse that is not all about riding--she literally rides one time) when the little horsey Carhartt-wearing girl played by Dakota Fanning meets Grand Slam. She's thrilled, astonished, a true fan of the greatest game. and it's one the movie's finest moments.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bouncing Baby Budweiser Clydesdales

 By Kitson

Photos courtesy of Budweiser / Warm Springs Ranch

There’s a baby boom in BoonvilleMissouri going on, and the babies are gigantic, adorable, white nosed Clydesdales, of the Budweiser variety. Boonville is home to the lovely Warm Springs Ranch, the state-of-the-art breeding facility in mid-Missouri for the Budweiser Clydesdales. About half of the 200-head Budweiser herd lives at Warm Springs. The facility opens for public tours starting this Saturday. Right now the farm is at the height of foaling season, with more than 30 baby Clydesdales expected to be born this year.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Allie Conrad: "Can Veterinarians Improve The State Of Thoroughbred Racing?"

By Eliza

Allie Conrad is the executive director of CANTER Mid-Atlantic, which finds homes for ex-racehorses. I interviewed her for a book called Second Chance Horses a few years ago, and enjoyed meeting her. She is blogging for the Chronicle of the Horse, and has posted a piece here about how the "elephant in the room" concerning racehorse breakdowns is veterinarians. "The veterinarians are put into a situation where they are endangering horses, people and, of course, their employment status. If they don’t do it, the next vet will. Horses then go out and run and further injure the joint, leaving them crippled for life if they are lucky, dead if they are not," she writes. It's another point to consider in the unfolding current discussion about racing.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys" and Black Gold

By Eliza

I have just finished reading the article in this morning's New York Times about racehorse breakdowns, "Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys," by Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, Dara L. Miles, and Griffin Palmer. It is a difficult--Jakob Schiller's haunting photograph of a dead horse, dumped after he broke down, sets the tone--and very worthwhile read for those of us who are fans of the greatest game.

Friday, March 23, 2012

There Are No Horses in the Hunger Games

By Kitson

When I flip through one of my husband's golf magazines, I play a little game: how many pages until I can find a horse? There's always a horse, usually some resort-style glamour shot of a woman riding while her husband is off... golfing. It's the same when I go to the movies. How long do I have to wait before the horse scene? I'm always looking for a flick of a tail or listening for the pounding of hooves when I go to the movies.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Colin's Ghost

You have already seen the blog name "Colin's Ghost" on the "Horse Links We Like" list here at, but here's one more reason to like it: Kevin kindly refers to my most recent Raceday360 article. In the same post, he refers to the article I would like everyone to read as well: a brilliant historical piece about racing writer Charles Hatton by Ryan Goldberg at Daily Racing Form.

Colin's Ghost here. (To find out what the evocative name means, go to the site.) And the Goldberg piece here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

HBO will buy the horses from cancelled show, "Luck"

Did you wonder what would happen to all the horse actors now that HBO has cancelled "Luck"? Evidently, HBO will buy them. This is leading to me conjuring up images of horses wandering around sets, wondering if they will be cast as chariot pullers or cowboy mounts, depending upon the topic of HBO's next drama. . .

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Horses From the World Equestrian Games

By Kitson

For me, hardly anything in the last 18 months has topped the thrill of going to the World Equestrian Games in 2010. Road trip to Kentucky with a press pass and a good friend -- it felt like a once in a lifetime. With Saint Patty's day approaching, I have been thinking back on some of the incredible Irish horses I saw exhibited in the Equine Village at the WEG. Here are a few I found in my photo files, straight from the Kentucky Horse Park:

HBO's "Luck" cancelled

By Eliza

There are so many ways to come at the story of HBO's racing drama, "Luck," being cancelled. It has been billed as an issue of humane treatment of the horses, three of which have died during filming. But there may be more to it than that. This is Andrew Cohen's take in The Atlantic, and it's one of the best pieces I've read on the topic (and I have read a lot of them.) His best quote, about what HBO officials must have been thinking: "No Luck, they reckoned, is better than bad luck." Here's his post.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

iPad now for horses

By Eliza

This is goofy.

I liked it. Click here for the "iPad now for horses" ad.

Merrick Post Up on Raceday 360

By Eliza

Head on over to for my latest Outrider column. This one is on Merrick, who was the oldest living Thoroughbred at one point. Learn about old Merrick and his devoted owner, Cal Milam, here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anne Romney's Horses

By Eliza

The Washington Post features an article today about Anne Romney's dressage horses. (The piece touches on some good horse world drama. . .without which no barn is complete.) Click here to read.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

For the Love of Irish Horses

By Kitson

Silver Galtee, an imported 1996 Irish Draught Sport Horse who competes in dressage, eventing, and hunter/jumpers. 

With Saint Patrick’s Day just a week, away, I thought it was time to share a little Irish green on So in honor of the Emerald Isle, leprechauns, four-leaf clover and a country that gives horses the right of way on the road, we’ll feature a beautiful Irish horse or two or three this week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cowboy Magic: Guy McLean

By Kitson

Photo courtesy of Guy McLean
This weekend show-stopping Australian rider Guy McLean heads to Murfreesboro, TN where he’ll compete with other top horsemen and women at the Road to the Horse 2012 International, a wild colt-starting competition. I’d love to be in Tennessee to see this. After seeing Guy at the World Equestrian Games in 2010 and then last October at the Washington International, it’s confirmed: Guy and his Aussie stock horses put on a great show!

How Are All The Horses Getting to the Olympics?

By plane, of course! NPR investigates. Click here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New book! Bubba To The Rescue, by Jennifer Walker

By Eliza

Bubba To The Rescue is the second book in Jennifer Walker's Green Meadow Series, which kicked off with Bubba Goes National, the story of a teenager named Leslie and her horse, Lucky. (Bubba is the goofy nickname that Leslie's father gives Lucky.) Here, in the time-honored way of books like Black Beauty and The Black Stallion and Satan, a barn fire sets in motion a sequence of events from which the affected horse people must grapple.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Certified Journeyman Farrier exam

In exciting news today, my horse Sugar's (see image at left) farrier passed the American Farriers Association Certified Journeyman written exam with 95%. Becoming a CJF means recognition for the highest level of accomplishment the AFA offers. Huge honor--and symbol of lots of hard work--that not very many shoers achieve. Congratulations to the talented Michael O'Brien and check out his work at his evocatively named website:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Horse Of A Different Color

. . .and I am far from the only person using that phrase. But this is a fun story to follow: the almost white racehorse, Hansen, whose owner wanted to dye his mane and tail blue before a big race. Racing authorities said it would be too undignified. . .what do you think? Click here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Chat With Horse Photographer Sue Stickle

By Kitson

In this fantastic image, Sue catches gold-medal event rider Stuart Tinney at the World Equestrian Games in 2010

For years Sue Stickle’s fantastic photos have given a lot of wow-factor to articles I’ve written for horse magazines. Recently I blogged about my article in this month’s Dressage Today, which ended up as the February 2012 cover – I’m guessing  – largely because of Sue’s beautiful image of Tuny Page demonstrating a booming extended trot on her Grand Prix mare, Alina.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Miranda Lambert's Horses

I take quite a bit of ribbing from my friends about being a bit disconnected when it comes to popular culture. Here, however, I am, taking an interest in Miranda Lambert, of whom I am a fan. Of course, I admit that I am taking interest in her offstage life because it involves. . .horses.
She says she has three horses (one is named Zeus, a fact which propelled her even higher in my estimation), and is learning to barrel race. Click here for the story.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dog Bites Man; or, Man Buys Horse At Car Auction

By Eliza

A New York man went to a car auction and came home with. . .a horse. I have been to plenty of horse auctions, and there can often be random tack or even trailers up for auction as well, but I have never heard of a horse at a car auction before. Peter Vitulli, who knows his Thoroughbreds, bought Sheza Heartbreaker for $16,000. Here is all I have seen of the story, but I might need to find out more. . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Whip Rules

By Eliza

One of the toughest parts about inviting a novitiate to join you when watching horse racing in particular, but any horse sport in general, is the whips. "Why do you hit horses?" It's an excellent question, and it's something that Great Britain is beginning to regulate. Racing expert Ray Paulick wrote an in-depth and interesting piece about England's rules here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Helping Haitian horses

By Eliza

A small group went to Haiti last week to help Haitian veterinarians help horses and ponies. In Haiti, many of these are working animals. I am particularly excited about this story because Javier Donatelli, the equine veterinarian who went with the group, has long taken care of my horses. Dr. Donatelli estimates that the team treated 200 horses in Port-au-Prince. Click here for the Washington Post's story on the trip.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day post up at Raceday 360

By Eliza

Ever wonder about racehorses with Valentine in their names or who would give his wife a horse for a Valentine's Day gift? Check out my Outrider column over on and find out. Happy Valentine's Day.

Pony Valentines

 By Kitson

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The horses of HBO's "Luck"

By Eliza

Just read this interesting Daily Racing Form article about how the horses in HBO's racetrack series Luck are chosen and trained to be television stars. The show has been in the news because two horses have had to be put down, but this article moves beyond that sad fact to discuss details of filming, such as the ways in which trainers prepared horses to be filmed. (Waving a white towel in front of horse-actors in the gate mimicked close-up cameras, and each horse received a grade of A to F on how he dealt with like challenges.)

Kind of like an audition.

Click here to read.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rest in Peace, Roxy

By Kitson

I feel like Stacy Westfall and I are old friends, even though we've only met by phone and email over the years. When I talked to her last month, she kept to her promise that she'd have time to do a quick interview for a story I was working on, even if it meant sitting in her car for 20 minutes after dark at the grocery store. She needed supplies to make lunches for her boys lunches in the morning. I tried to be brief.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sleigh Ride

By Kitson

On a ski trip in Pennsylvania this weekend, mother nature treated us to six inches of snow. The fluffy precipitation made for great skiiing, but as the first snowflakes started to fall, my mind (naturally) turned to sleigh riding.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl Budweiser "Prohibition" Commercial

By Eliza

I was just downstairs watching the Superbowl with my ten-year-old son--I am admittedly not much of a football fan--and he was explaining things to me. I was sort of glazing over when this commercial came on. I am always happy to see the Budweiser Clydesdales, as all of us horse people are, but this one spoke to me especially.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chatting With Tuny Page

By Kitson

Tuny and Alina
Photo by Terri Miller,
Courtesy of Tuny Page
Last summer I sat down with international dressage rider and trainer Arlene “Tuny” Page at her home in Wellington, FL for a long interview about perfecting the extended trot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

NYT story of one of the Equine Stars of War Horse. . .Finder's Key

By Eliza

Here's the story of the horse who was the lead War Horse (did you know 14 horses played Joey)? Best part: he plays his own dam giving birth to Joey. Talk about versatile. Click here to read.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Story of a Dream Come True for Young Fan of Smarty Jones

Smarty Jones
By Eliza

Three Chimneys Farm has given one of Smarty Jones' sons to his biggest fan, a teenager named Madison Scott, who was ten years old when Smarty won the Derby. Great story for anyone who has fallen in love with a star racehorse. Click here for the full story.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


By Kitson

I’ve heard a lot of people say the movie War Horse was sad, but the most powerful feeling that I came away with after seeing it yesterday was joy. The joy of a reunion between a boy and his beloved horse who had suffered a devastating separation. There were definitely parts of the movie that were hard to watch. But if you’ve ever lost a horse or a pet or a person that you loved, you pine for the impossible reunion. This movie gives it to you on a silver screen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The New York Times and the amazing story of Neville Bardos

By Eliza

Excellent story in the New York Times today about one of the most amazing true-life and current-events horse stories: barn fire survivor and event horse Neville Bardos is a finalist for International Horse of the Year. Click here to read

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The National Sporting Library and Museum

By Eliza

I was in Middleburg, Virginia, earlier this week, and went for the first time into the museum portion of the National Sporting Library and Museum. If you don't know about the NSLM, it's a library and museum dedicated to the culture surrounding horse and field sports, located in one of America's centers for them: horse country, Virginia.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy birthday, Thoroughbreds

By Eliza

January is a month of new beginnings, and I take a look at how Thoroughbreds celebrate their birthday in an Outrider column over on Click here to read.

Kicking off the Year in Cowboy Boots

By Kitson

One of the first good things to happen so far in 2012 is that the United States Equestrian Federation just launched the first digital issue of its Equestrian magazine last week. The official publication of the USEF, the publication covers competition across the disciplines and glimpses into the lives of top American horsemen and women.

I had the privilege of being on the writing team for the inaugural issue – click here to check out the story I wrote about four time Grammy-award-winning singer and songwriter Lyle Lovett and his lifelong connection with horses.